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The next three inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 2012: Bertelli, Lambert and Wright

April 11, 2012

The Herreshoff Marine Museum together with the America’s Cup Hall of Fame today revealed the identity of the next three inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Coming from three distinct America’s Cup eras two of them are Americans and one is Italian.

The next three inductees to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2012 Bertelli, Lambert and Wright Photo by Daniel ForsterAmerica´s Cup Hall of Fame

The next three inductees to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2012: Bertelli, Lambert and Wright Photo by Daniel Forster/America´s Cup Hall of Fame

Established in 1992 the America’s Cup Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes the achievements of individuals within the sport of sailing and in particular the America’s Cup competition. On a regular basis several personalities are identified by the Hall of Fame Committee to be inducted. 2012 sees three more individuals chosen to join the ranks of those already inducted. The first person to be inducted this year, posthumously, is Gerard B. Lambert, Sr. (USA) – who was active in the periods 1930 to 1937, the second, Jonathan Wright (USA) – was active between 1974 and 1987 and the third, Patrizio Bertelli (ITA) – has been active continuously since 1997.

Gerard B. Lambert, Sr (b 1887 – d 1967) had an association with the America’s Cup that spanned the last three Cup cycles before the Second World War. In 1928 Lambert bought Vanitie, the unsuccessful Defender candidate of 1920, for the express purpose of converting her to the new J Class rule and using her as a trial horse for the four new American J Class yachts being built for the 1930 Defender trials. He was also a member of the syndicate that campaigned Weetamoe, one of those four new yachts.

In 1934 Lambert was one of the members of the syndicate that built and campaigned Rainbow the Defender candidate that successfully dispatched one of the most competitive challengers ever, the British charter yacht Endeavour. During this match there was however an incident in one of the races that led to controversy between the competitors. The Challenger, not believing the incident had been fairly handled by the regatta organisers, vowed never to return.

In 1935, Lambert personally took it upon himself to try and rectify the unfortunate situation by mounting an ambitious diplomatic and sporting campaign. He bought Yankee, another unsuccessful but ultimately competitive J Class yacht, sailed her across the Atlantic in a race against his other yacht the record-breaking schooner Atlantic, before competing in the entire UK regatta circuit over the following Summer months. Lambert’s initiative did much to reinvigorate motivation amongst the British yachting community for international competition such that a further challenge for the Cup came in 1937. Lambert was again a member of the syndicate that campaigned the Defender that year – Ranger.

Patrizio Bertelli (b 1946) has been sailing and racing yachts his whole life.  He has a passion for the America’s Cup and in 1997 he founded the Italian team, now known as the Luna Rossa Challenge.  Not the first Italian challenger Bertelli’s team is however the most dedicated. No other Italian syndicate has ever challenged more than twice.  The Luna Rossa Challenge has endeared itself to the Cup community by being efficient, stylish and always competitive and consequently doing a huge amount to build on the massive Italian popular following of the America’s Cup.

This team has now challenged for the America’s Cup four times, the first challenge saw them advance all the way through the Challenger Selection Series to win the Louis Vuitton Cup before being defeated by the Defender in the 30th Match in March 2000 in Auckland. Luna Rossa beat an American challenger candidate in the finals and the 2000 America’s Cup Match became the first Match in the event’s history without an American club involved.

Luna Rossa challenged again in 2003 and 2007 making it to the Louis Vuitton Cup semi finals and finals respectively. Luna Rossa has recently challenged for the 34th America’s Cup and brought a young international crew to tackle the new multi-hull world. Patrizio Bertelli recently announced in Palermo that, challenger or defender after the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco 2013 he will be back again with Luna Rossa. If this comes to pass Bertelli will equal the most prolific challenger of all times, Sir Thomas Lipton, with five attempts at wresting the America’s Cup.

Patrizio Bertelli is the CEO of the Prada Group.

Jonathan Wright (b 1953) is one of the unsung heroes of the12-Metre era in America’s Cup history. Two main reasons put Wright in this position.

The first reason is due to Wright’s sailing activities. Having crewed on board no fewer than five Defenders across a period of 13 years Wright is certainly made of the stuff that the Hall of Fame recognises. Wright’s contemporaries Dennis Conner, Ted Hood, Ted Turner and Tom Whidden have already been inducted for their contributions to America’s Cup history during the 12-Metre era, but if it hadn’t been for the skills of Wright and others trimming the sails on Intrepid, Courageous, Freedom, Liberty and Stars & Stripes things might not have worked out the way they did. Wright’s proven all-round ability within an America’s Cup campaign saw him tasked in 1985 with the huge responsibility of recruiting a squad of 25 sailors for the upcoming Stars & Stripes campaign of 1987, a campaign that would ultimately be successful in bringing the Cup back from Australia to America.

The second reason is due to Wright’s communicating activities. Over his America’s Cup career and since, Jon has shared his experiences and spread the message about the magic of the America’s Cup to thousands of people over the years by virtue of having given over 150 talks to audiences around the United States ranging in size from 40 to 450 at a time.

Jon Wright currently holds the Vanderstar Chair at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Both Bertelli and Wright are past winners of the Louis Vuitton Cup on their first attempt.

The America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, jointly organized by the Herreshoff Museum and Louis Vuitton, will take place at the Marble House in Newport, RI on the evening of 29th June this year, at the same time as the America’s Cup World Series regatta in Newport (27 June-1 July), the final event in the first annual season of racing the new AC45 catamarans.

Marble House, on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, is a significant venue for this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Marble House belonged to Alva Belmont, the mother of Harold ‘Mike’ Vanderbilt, an early inductee into the Hall of Fame and syndicate member, with Lambert, of Rainbow and Ranger in 1934 and 1937. In 1983, Marble House was the setting for the America’s Cup Trophy presentation on the occasion of Australia II’s outstanding victory – the first Challenger to ever win a Match for America’s Cup.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012: South China Sea Brings True Offshore Challenge

April 11, 2012

2012 marked the golden anniversary of Asia’s premier offshore yacht race, the 565-nautical mile Rolex China Sea Race. The diverse 25-boat fleet varied from the sole participating Maxi, Geoff Hill’s sailing yacht Genuine Risk, which took the Sunday Telegraph Trophy for Line Honours as well as a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece, to the many 50 and 40-footers racing to win the China Sea Race Trophy on corrected time.

Start of the 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race

Start of the 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race Photo by ROLEX/Daniel Forster

The Overall title on corrected time went to the Singaporean entry Zanzibar, who also laid claim to a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece in addition to inscribing their victory in the record books of Rolex China Sea Race history.

“The race started a bit more complex than we thought,” said Geoff Hill of Genuine Risk’s experience on the South China Sea. “Our plan was to go south of the rhum line and come up and we effectively stuck with that.”

The softening of the breeze on the second day made breaking the current race record, established in 2000 by local yachtsman Karl Kwok on his Volvo 60 Beau Geste (elapsed time 47h 43m 07s), next to impossible. Genuine Risk needed to arrive in Subic Bay before 12:03 on Friday, 6 April (UTC +8) to set a new Rolex China Sea Race record. When she finally crossed the line it was over 14 hours later than the required record time.

“I think if we had gotten the breeze we could have broken the record,” said Hill, “we are pretty confident of that… but we didn’t get the breeze, and that’s what ocean racing’s all about.”

Hill has been racing the Rolex China Sea Race since 2004, although this was the first edition for him on Genuine Risk, a Dubois 90 Maxi with a canting keel, 16-foot draft, huge sails and enormous power. Previously, Hill raced onboard his TP52 Strewth, a boat about half the size of his current machine. Hill admitted to “feeling spoiled” after his Maxi experience on the South China Sea, and pre-race, his primary challenges were optimising the boat and preparing the 24-man crew in time for this year’s race start. “What is interesting about this race,” added Hill, “is that you just never know who it will be. The weather will actually determine who wins on handicap, because there are just so many variable patterns.”

GENUINE RISK, Geoff Hill Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Sailing yacht GENUINE RISK Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

The 2012 race saw a clean start just off the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, with winds of 12-15 knots propelling the fleet out of Victoria Harbour. The superyacht Genuine Risk led the fleet the first evening followed by Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi. Almost 24 hours later, the surge in the monsoon, which was responsible for the race’s strong Harbour start, receded and was replaced by a south-easterly, forcing the crews into crucial tactical decisions. The fleet split, with the faster boats at the front – Genuine Risk, Hi Fi and Freefire – branching off to the South, while the rest of the fleet chose to head east, positioning themselves for the expected replenishment of the monsoon.

However, the forecasted breeze was fickle, and the second day of racing proved to be fairly frustrating, with poor winds and slowing speeds all around. By the third day conditions began to accelerate, giving an advantage to the boats with asymmetric sails like Genuine Risk, the TP52s and the “Hot” 40s, including Ambush and Sell Side Dream.

As predicted, it was Genuine Risk that finished first, on Saturday 7 April at 02:43.26 (UTC +8). “We enjoyed the race,” said Hill, “it was tactically very demanding because of all the changes in the breeze. This boat was out on the water for the first time in nearly 12 months; we also had a new crew and that’s all come together pretty well, so we are very pleased with the way it went.” The second boat into Subic Bay was Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi, finishing the same day at 16:00.54 (UTC +8). Pryde is a Rolex China Sea Race veteran, having participated in nearly every edition of the race since 1968.

His Welbourn 52 Hi Fi has been extremely successful offshore, counting line honours for the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Rolex China Sea Race, and overall winner in 2010, among her achievements. “The first night we got very good mileage down the track but the second day we just ran out of wind and had a very bad day,” explained Pryde. “We had a game plan to stay south and I think we lost out quite a lot. We didn’t get any wind and had a hard time, allowing the smaller boats to catch right up to us, but that’s yacht racing. We had a plan, we stuck to it, and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Singapore entry Zanzibar made gains overnight going into the third day of racing, although the lead was changing regularly between a handful of competitors. Zanzibar reached the finish line at 20:44.48 on 7 April, putting intense pressure on the rest of the fleet to beat her on corrected time.

Jonathan Mahony, Owner/Skipper of Zanzibar explained that the team had a broad game plan to stay left of the rhum line, which ultimately paid off. “As soon as we saw an opportunity to head back out to the left we took it. We were looking great the second day, we caught a beautiful front running down across the gap and found ourselves in a nice position, while we saw everyone else parked up on the right. Things only got stressful and tense once we knew we were doing quite well on the big boats. We saw the others had a horrible park up and we were just trying to avoid doing the same ourselves. We had a couple of hairy moments but in the end we just managed to sneak in. We are absolutely satisfied, I mean, you will always have a few holes in this race, which can lead to a tactical nightmare, but we were expecting that. I would say we had a great race.”

EFG Bank Mandrake needed to finish before 01:15 local time on 8 April in order to topple Zanzibar’s lead, but with the still breeze off the finish, the team only crossed the line at 02:30.30, still finishing second in IRC Overall. Red Kite II, Australian Maid and Vega were also in the running for the Overall title, but by 13:30 (UTC +8) on 8 April the results for IRC Overall were in and it was Zanibar that took the title on corrected time, beating out the “big boats” and all other competitors on handicap. Hi Fi finished third in IRC Overall on corrected time.

Richard Killip, crew onboard the yacht Zanzibar, said the race went well for the team because they took an outside route. “It was good fun, it was challenging and we worked the boat incredibly hard. But it’s like Neil Pryde said in Hong Kong: you need an element of luck to be able to finish well, particularly coming into Subic. That’s true, and coming in through here, anything can happen.”

The 2012 edition of the Rolex China Sea Race proved once again that changing local conditions provide constant challenge and tactical re-evaluation as crews race out of Hong Kong to the Philippines on this 565-mile sprint. As Geoff Hill said, “I think the Rolex China Sea Race is one of the most underrated offshore races in terms of challenges, distance from shore, and range of conditions. You leave Hong Kong and you head offshore till you hit the finish. This isn’t a coastal cling, a Channel dash, or a Mediterranean meander. This is a genuine offshore event across a tricky, crowded, notorious seaway.”

As this year’s race comes to a close, all look forward to the next edition of the biennial Rolex China Sea Race; rendezvous in 2014 at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for what promises to be another challenging adventure across the South China Sea.

US Ambassador in Italy to experience the Naples AC World Series

April 11, 2012

Ambassador David Thorne experienced the first day’s competing at the Naples AC World Series today, watching the two races up close from the support boat of America’s Cup champion ORACLE Racing.

ORACLE Racing Skipper Jimmy Spithill

ORACLE Racing Skipper Jimmy Spithill, U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne, Regatta Director Iain Murray and Consul General Donald L. Moore at ACWS Naples - Photo by Guilain Grenier

“I would like to express my gratitude to the America’s Cup organizers and the beautiful city of Naples for hosting this prestigious event. It is a great honor to see this exciting racing, so I also sincerely thank Oracle for this opportunity. My grandfather sailed an America’s Cup defender many years ago, so sailing is in my blood,” said Ambassador Thorne.

His family connection is with the yacht Whirlwind, a trialist for the defense of the America’s Cup in 1934. ORACLE Racing is the official defense team for the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco.

As a keen sailor himself, the ambassador was disappointed when the sea conditions prevented him from competing in Race 1 aboard the ORACLE Racing boat skippered by America’s Cup champion James Spithill.

With the wind blowing over 20 knots and a rough sea, Regatta Director Iain Murray made the prudent choice that no additional crew would be carried in the “Guest Racer” position aboard the race yachts. But prior to the race the ambassador got an opportunity to go aboard for a short time and experience the AC45 race boat firsthand.

Nonetheless, the ambassador donned full sailing gear and, having witnessed one race from the water aboard the ORACLE Racing support boat, he asked to stay out for the second race.

The America’s Cup World Series comprises the 2011-12 and 2012-13 championships, staged in cities around the world and raced for in high-speed, next-generation AC45 Class wingsailed catamaran sailboats. It features the best sailors and fastest boats in the world.

The ACWS is a precursor to the America’s Cup itself, the oldest trophy in international sport and an iconic event which origins as far back as 1851. The America’s Cup finals, staged in ORACLE Racing’s home city of San Francisco in September 2013, will be contested in even bigger and faster AC72 class boats, but like the AC45 there is a special provision in the rules for one “Guest Racer” to be aboard each boat in every race.

“To have the U.S. ambassador visit our team and race on our boat made it a proud day for us,” said Spithill.

The Naples regatta is the third event of six in the 2011-12 America’s Cup World Series. Previous rounds were held last year in Cascais (Portugal), Plymouth (UK) and San Diego (USA). After Naples the 2011-12 championship moves to Venice (Italy) next month and then Newport, RI (USA) late in June where the championship will be decided.

Naples AC World Series: ORACLE Racing Spithill ties for daily win after two fleet races

April 11, 2012

At ACWS San Diego last November, ORACLE Racing Spithill reached the enviable double, winning both the match racing as well as fleet racing championships. Today in difficult conditions on the Bay of Naples, ORACLE Racing Spithill won the first fleet race going away. The quintet followed it up with a 3rd in Race 2 and finished the day tied for the overall lead with Emirates Team New Zealand.

ORACLE Racing Spithill ties for daily win after two fleet races

ORACLE Racing Spithill ties for daily win after two fleet races Photo: Guilain Grener/Team USA

“It was pretty bumpy out there, pretty challenging, but once again I was really impressed by these boats. I think they give the best racing in the world in these conditions,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We had two really good starts and after that it was about the tacks. You had to pick a flat spot. That’s where there were huge gains and losses.”

With the wind blowing steadily in the 20s and a choppy sea running at 6 to 8 feet, the conditions were rougher today than even in the more sheltered Plymouth, U.K., last September, widely considered the windiest regatta. ORACLE Racing Spithill wasn’t without its own troubles.

“We broke a couple of wing frames in the first race so we backed off a bit in the second race,” Spithill said.

A few crews were hurt by the conditions: Artemis Racing retired late in the first race after capsizing and suffering damage to the top of the wingsail, China Team also withdrew late in the first race and ORACLE Racing Bundock didn’t start the second fleet race after placing fifth in the first.

Teams competing in the Naples AC World Series

Teams competing in the Naples AC World Series Photo: Guilain Grener/Team USA

“Tacking well, not capsizing like Artemis Racing, and not breaking your boat like some of the other teams was the key for success today,” said ORACLE Racing Spithill tactician John Kostecki.

ORACLE Racing Bundock had a good start in the first race and slipped around the leeward mark in second place, but was penalized twice on the first upwind leg for crossing outside the racecourse boundary.

The crew retired in between races because of damage to its hull caused by the large waves.

“The massive waves were the main issue,” said skipper Darren Bundock. “For us, we didn’t hit anything but we buckled the hull from the hatch cover down about 20 cm. It came from the impact of bouncing off the waves.”

ORACLE Racing Spithill

ORACLE Racing Spithill Photo: Guilain Grener/Team USA

ORACLE Racing Spithill will be ready to race tomorrow. The shore team was working on ORACLE Racing Bundock, mindful that low air temperatures were not ideal for repairing high-tech epoxy and carbon-fiber race boats.

“We have one of the best, if not the best, shore teams here,” commented Spithill.

Today’s two fleet races served as a seeding for tomorrow’s match racing. In QF1, ORACLE Racing Spithill races ORACLE Racing Bundock in a heat scheduled for approximately 16 minutes in length. The winner advances to the second semifinal match on Saturday while the loser is assigned 7th place for the match racing championship.

Three match races are planned tomorrow ahead of two fleet races.

Naples AC World Series: Thrills, spills and close racing to open the yacht race

April 11, 2012

Naples started in amazing fashion on Wednesday as strong winds and big waves created menacing racing conditions. The AC45 catamaran yachts, powered by their strong wing sails, were leaping out of the water, launched into the air by the heavy sea state.

Thrills, spills and close racing to open the Naples AC World Series

Thrills, spills and close racing to open the Naples AC World Series © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

“It’s cool, the sailing is pretty awesome, you can’t complain when you’re sailing in conditions like that,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, who sits at the top of the leaderboard after two fleet races. “But it’s very challenging for the boats and very taxing for the crew. The goal was to get back to the dock in one piece, which we did – it’s nice to be back in good shape.”

Barker and his team clawed back from deep in the fleet in race one to finish in third place. In the second race, they were able to secure a win, putting them on equal points with ORACLE Racing Spithill who also have a 1-3 on their scorecard. Barker’s team gets the nod on the tiebreak by winning the last race.

Team Luna Rossa

Team Luna Rossa © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Close behind are two teams who put in an outstanding performance on a challenging day. Team Korea, with young skipper Nathan Outteridge sailing his very first AC World Series regatta posted a 4-2 to sit equal on points with Energy Team, who mirrored their score.

“We couldn’t expect much more than that,” Outteridge said. “The big guns are ahead of us. But we’re overachieving compared with expectations, so we’re very, very happy.”

Not surprisingly in the difficult conditions, there were teams who finished the day less content. Terry Hutchinson was leading his Artemis Racing team to a solid second place in the first race when both bows buried in impressive fashion as he rounded the top mark. The front of the boat kept going down, the wind pushing the wing over, until they capsized.

Strong winds and big waves created menacing racing conditions

Strong winds and big waves created menacing racing conditions © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

“It was a balance between racing the boat hard and not putting ourselves in a position of risk,” Hutchinson explained. “I don’t really feel like we put ourselves at risk but still we ended up on our side. It’s just very frustrating… Luckily no one’s injured, but the wing is absolutely broken… It’s a real bummer, the boat was so well prepared and sorted for the regatta, and we’ve been going well in training, so all in all a pretty big disappointment.”

China Team too suffered minor damage to its wing and didn’t finish the first race, or start the second. ORACLE Racing Bundock suffered some damage to one of its hulls after flying off a wave and landing hard in race one, which ended their day. But skipper Darren Bundock said he was confident his shore team would have them ready to race for Thursday.

Both Luna Rossa crews, making their AC World Series debut turned in solid, if not spectacular performances to sit mid-fleet after the first day.

Team Korea

Team Korea © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

The program for Thursday starts with Match Racing, the pairings determined by today’s results, followed by two Fleet Races and the Fleet Racing Championship continues. The first Match Race start is 1330 CEST.

Provisional Standings after Day One:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (Skipper: Dean Barker)
2. ORACLE Racing – Spithill (Skipper: James Spithill)
3. Team Korea (Skipper: Nathan Outteridge)
4. Energy Team (Skipper: Yann Guichard)
5. Luna Rossa – Swordfish (Helmsman: Paul Campbell-James)
6. Luna Rossa – Piranha (Helmsman: Chris Draper)
7. ORACLE Racing – Bundock (Skipper: Darren Bundock)
8. Artemis Racing (Skipper: Terry Hutchinson)
9. China Team (Skipper: Fred Le Peutrec)

America´s Cup: Sailing game available free as an app for iPhone and iPad

April 10, 2012

An exciting new game with extraordinary virtual-reality graphics is now available, free, as an app for the iPhone as well as iPad. Gamers and America’s Cup fans, even those with no sailing experience, can test themselves against the best sailors and the fastest yachts in the world.

Sailing game available free as an app for iPhone and iPad Credit ACEA

Sailing game available free as an app for iPhone and iPad Credit: ACEA

The game is now live in the Apple App Store and is available free for downloading to iPhones and iPads. An Android version for phones and tablets will be released in the coming weeks.

Players test their skills by steering a wing-sailed AC45, attempting to set the fastest time across an AC500 Speed Trial course. Optimal steering through the wind on the race course leads to a top placing, while mistakes are punished by loss of time, with big errors resulting in a capsize.

The game was created with developer Many Players of France, and is based on the sophisticated performance prediction program used by the current America’s Cup champions ORACLE Racing (USA).

America’s Cup sailors are already playing. Troy Tindill of Team Korea posted on his Facebook page on Sunday, ‘Trying to get Nathan Outteridge (the team skipper) off the new America’s Cup speed trial app to go and do the real thing!’

The fastest time set so far at an America’s Cup World Series regatta over the AC500 Speed Trial course is 36.17 seconds by ORACLE Racing Bundock, an average speed of 26.87 knots (30mph/49kph).

After downloading the game, virtual skippers choose their favorite team from the America’s Cup World Series competitors – Artemis Racing (Sweden); China Team (China); Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand); Energy Team (France); Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy); ORACLE Racing (USA); and Team Korea (Korea) – and then compete for the fastest time posted by the best virtual sailors in the world.

“The new game is awesome,” posted ORACLE Racing CEO Russell Coutts on his Facebook page over the Easter weekend. “It’s a lot of fun, educational, and it should help to introduce the America’s Cup to a new fan base.”

34th America´s Cup: France´s CANAL+ to bring live coverage from Naples

April 10, 2012

The America´s Cup announced today that the leading French broadcaster CANAL+ will provide comprehensive live coverage of all the America’s Cup events during the next 18 months comprising this week’s World Series yacht regatta in Naples, Italy.

France´s CANAL to bring live coverage from Naples

France´s CANAL+ to bring live coverage from Naples © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

This follows recent broadcast announcements with NBC in the USA, Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland, and Italy’s Mediaset.

CANAL+ and the America’s Cup have reached an agreement for live coverage of the 34th America’s Cup and the Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco in 2013, and all preceding America’s Cup World Series events.

This week CANAL+SPORT will broadcast the live action every day from the America’s Cup World Series-Naples, April 11-15.

“We are pleased to offer French sailing fans the opportunity to see the remarkable and dramatic images of the entire America’s Cup campaign,” said Cyril Linette, Sports Editorial Director of CANAL+.

“We know sailing fans are excited by the new look of the America’s Cup and with this agreement we’ll be bringing all the action, live starting from Naples, home to our viewers in France.”

The TV broadcast puts the viewer ‘on the race boats’, listening to the sailors’ voices and seeing every move via onboard microphones and cameras.  The Emmy-nominated LiveLine graphics, which use cutting edge technology to overlay easy-to-understand explanatory information on the live television pictures, brings a new level of accessibility to fans across the world.

“It’s great that CANAL+ have joined our already impressive list of broadcast partners,” said Stan Honey, Director of Technology and the mastermind behind LiveLine. “Through our investments in technology to capture and explain the race action we have been able to produce more dramatic coverage and build interest from both new and existing fans across the world.”

French sailing fans will be cheering for their home crew, Energy Team, skippered by Yann Guichard, which made considerable strides during the last regatta in San Diego in November 2011.

Live coverage on CANAL+SPORT this week will commence at 14:00 CEST each day from Wednesday until Saturday, and from 14:30 CEST on Sunday, April 15 for the final dramatic fleet race.

Naples AC World Series to bring ´on-the-edge´ racing to Italy

April 10, 2012

Competing in the Naples America’s Cup World Series starts on Wednesday afternoon, with Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand crew clinging to a one point lead on the overall series leaderboard over ORACLE Racing Spithill.

Naples AC World Series to start tomorrow ACEA 2012Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Naples AC World Series to start tomorrow Credit: ACEA 2012/Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Two new Luna Rossa crews, sailing on home waters, are expected to be near the front of the fleet this week, while Artemis Racing, currently third, will be keen to improve on its podium position, with ORACLE Racing Bundock trying to knock them off. Team Korea, skippered by multiple world champion Nathan Outteridge will be pushing hard, as will Energy Team, looking to consolidate on gains made in the last regatta in San Diego. China Team, with new skipper Fred Le Peutrec, is coming fresh off a training camp in Sanya, China, and could surprise here in Italy.

Team Luna Rossa

Team Luna Rossa Credit: ACEA 2012/Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Local support in Naples for the event has been incredible, with Paolo Graziano, the President of the local organizing committee, estimating the crowd along the waterfront over the course of a sunny holiday Monday at nearly 250,000.

Over the Easter weekend, Yves Carcelle, the CEO of Louis Vuitton, a 30-year partner of the America’s Cup, had the opportunity to sail as a guest racer on board the AC45 wing-sailed catamarans.

“It’s much more sport now on the AC45s than it was on the monohulls,” he said, after getting a close up view of the action. “Today it is a young man’s game to sail these boats. On board, the five crew have to be very, very fit. The movement and speed just never stops. It’s permanent action. At the end of the day, the sailors must be totally exhausted.”

Championship Racing at the AC World Series in Naples runs from April 11-15.

Naples AC World Series: Spectacular opening ceremony

April 09, 2012

What started with a light show as well as music finished with fireworks illuminating a torrential downpour. The thunder and lightning just highlighted the drama of the moment and the impressive setting.

Naples AC World Series - Opening Ceremony Credit ACEA 2012Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Naples AC World Series - Opening Ceremony Credit: ACEA 2012/Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

The opening ceremony in Naples was an absolutely spectacular show – at a level not seen before at the America’s Cup World Series.

The ceremony took place at the Piazza del Plebiscito, which had seating for one thousand guests. Several thousand others were packed into the large Piazza, which was standing room only.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano appeared via video link, offering his congratulations to Naples for hosting the America’s Cup World Series, which he said would strengthen the international profile of Naples and the entire southern region of Italy.

The Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, said the success of the AC World Series shows the world that Naples can excel in hosting world class events. Importantly, he noted the event is ‘returning the waterfront’ to the people of Naples, with the race village and team bases turning what was four lanes of busy traffic into a pedestrian walkway along the sea front.

And Regatta Director Iain Murray thanked all of the organisational bodies involved in Naples for pulling together such an impressive facility.

The America’s Cup – the oldest and most sought after trophy in international sport – was on stage, illuminated by powerful spotlights.

The show culminated with each full race crew being called on stage, bearing the flag of their challenge, to be saluted by the crowd. Not surprisingly, Luna Rossa was the favourite ahead of their AC World Series debut.

The evening may have ended with thunder and lightning, but no amount of rain could dampen spirits on this night.

Thank you Naples. It’s going to be a great week!

Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012: Last Chances

April 08, 2012

No one said competing in paradise was easy, and on Saturday, the final race day at Les Voiles de St. Barth, crews were again tested with light as well as variable winds. Tacticians and navigators found it challenging – as did helmsman and trimmers who were searching for any advantage in the changeable conditions.

Final day's racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Final day's racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

But with first place still in play in more than half the classes going into the final race, there was plenty of incentive to maintain concentration. In IRC52, Spinnaker 1, Non-Spinnaker Racing, and Multihull classes, only one point separated the first two positions. Les Voiles de St. Barth Race Committee sent the fleet on an initial upwind beat and then around the western islands including Ile Fourchue. Though after several hours, with the breeze lightning even more and with much of the fleet only halfway around, the race committee elected to shorten the course.

In the Maxi class, George David’s 90-foot superyacht Rambler (Hartford, Conn.) posted four wins for the week. David has won the two prior editions of Les Voiles, last year with his former boat, Rambler 100.  The high-tech monohull, built to break ocean records, capsized in dramatic fashion last August off the Fastnet Rock, when the keel snapped off. Many of the crew from the 100-footer were in St. Barth’s racing on Rambler this year.

David is a big fan of Les Voiles, “This is a great regatta for a bunch of reasons: it’s a beautiful island, and it’s a vertical island, so it’s scenic to sail around, and you can get some very complicated courses. The race committee does a great job in setting the courses and the breeze can be quite shifty in close to shore, so there are typically lots of turns in this race course.  This week, we had between 20 – 23 mile long races, typically seven legs or so, so lots of crew activity and a lot of opportunity for error.”

Racing on final day of Les Voiles de St. Barth

Racing on final day of Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

David described the inner workings of the water-ballasted speedster, “The big advantage we have, especially in lighter air like this, is we can unload the ballast. Two numbers are important: this boat dry displaces 21 tons and then we add six tons of water ballast to it. Especially in light air conditions, if you can get the boat to float higher and take less power to push it like today, we just slip away. The water ballast is a tremendous advantage.

“Racing is a little bit about luck. It’s also about organization and teamwork, and I think that’s one place where Rambler does no shy from; it’s a mature program, we’ve been racing together now for six years. And we have more miles on the boat than is typical.”

It’s a great place to have a regatta, well sponsored, the shore side parties and race committee work is great. If you talk to all competitors, you’d have to scramble to find a complaint. It just gets better all the time, but it was a pretty high standard in the first place.

This year an IRC class was added in response to the owners input. The new class proved successful as racing for the IRC52 was close all week with each of the boats, Mayhem, Vesper, and PowerPlay winning a race. Today Jim Swartz’ Vesper (USA) took a bullet, but it would be Mayhem (CAN) that posted the best scoreline, to win the class overall.

Spinnaker Class racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Spinnaker Class racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

Skipper Ashley Wolfe has been sailing with her core crew for the past ten years, and onboard in St Barth’s were a formidable crew including Ross MacDonald, Charlie McKee, and Mike Mottl. Wolfe said,  “It was down to pretty much today. The week was fantastic, very tight racing back and forth – it could have been anybody, one day we were first, one day last, the next day second. No mistakes and some luck.” Asked about a return visit, Wolfe said, “I’ve heard there’s more breeze other years, so I think I’ll come back, but no complaints at all, it was a fabulous regatta!”

Spinnaker 1 class came down to a battle between Frits Bus’ Melges 24, Coors Light (St. Maarten) and Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122, Lazy Dog (Puerto Rico), which finished tied on six points, with the Dutch boat winning on a countback by virtue of their first place finish today. Ashore before the boats docked out, the wind funneled over the hill in Gustavia giving indications of a possibly breezier day. Bus was not optimistic about their chances against a boat with significantly more waterline in those condition; however, competitors eventually encountered much less wind on the course, which suited the Melges 24 and their crew just fine.

In Spinnaker 2, it was Clay Deutsch’s Defiance (Boston, Mass.) that held off Stephen Murray’s Carkeek 40, Decision (New Orleans, La.). Deutsch had chartered the Marten 49 for the regatta and sailed the boat with crew from his previous race boat, Chippewa. Deutsch said, “We’re absolutely thrilled. Decision got us today, but we have enough points for the week.  It was tough day today, very draining. It was very light and variable, with virtually no sea state, but boy, it was shifty so driving was challenging. And it was hard tactically.”

Coors Light went on to win overall in the Spinnaker 1 Class at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Coors Light went on to win overall in the Spinnaker 1 Class at Les Voiles de St. Barth ©: Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. Barth

The newly-launched Decision, with tactician Steve Benjamin onboard, pushed Defiance all week. Deutsch said, “Decision got away from us early, so we sailed our own race. They were basically our competition, and it was great having them here. It’s always more fun when you’re really racing someone and you can go at it back and forth. We were in touch with each other all week, no one ever got more than a couple of minutes ahead.”

Another first-timer at Les Voiles, he said “We really enjoyed the week, nothing bad happened. I’d love to come back, this was really first class, the race committee did a very good job and the shore side stuff was just fabulous…as only the French can do!”

Non-Spinnaker: Thomas Mullen’s J/95 sailing yacht Shamrock VII (Campton, N.H.) just held off Antiguan Bernie Evans-Wong’s High Tension. Shamrock came straight from the BVI regatta, where they won their class. Right after finishing, they delivered the boat to St Barth’s with barely time to register, let alone practice. Mullen attributed his boat’s win to a combination of bad luck for some of their competitors and extraordinarily hard work on part of his crew.

In the Multihull class, it was Peter Aschenbrenner’s Paradox (FRA) that tied with Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66, Phaedo (St. Barth, F.W.I.), and won on countback. The Nigel Irens-designed 63-footer, with American multihull sailor Cam Lewis on board, a veteran of several round the world multihull campaigns, and who provided local knowledge having been in St. Barth’s at the two previous Les Voiles regattas.

Classic: Matt and Pam Brooks, owners of the Olin Stephens-designed luxury yacht Dorade (San Francisco, Calif), were delighted to have brought the famous ocean racing yawl to the Caribbean for the first time ever in the boat’s 80+ years. Brooks said, “We have learned a lot about how to sail the boat and it has been really fun. Everyday the course was good. Yesterday’s round the island race was really challenging because of the varied conditions.  It has really been a lot of fun with good course setting and regatta management. This has been a good warm-up for the boat and crew for the Newport Bermuda Race in June.

The prize giving took place on a stage in the Race Village on the Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia, with Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy; Ernest Brin, Capitaine of the Port; Sir Peter Harrison, ‘godfather’ of this year’s Les Voiles de St. Barth; Paul Bastard, International Jury Chairman; Marc Grisoli, President of St. Barth Yacht Club; and Francois Tolede, Event Director. Presenting awards to the competitors were Annelisa Gee, Competitions Director, and Kiki Laporte, MC for the evening’s activities.

The top three finishers in each of the three classes –  Maxi,  IRC, Classic, Spinnaker 1 & 2, Non-Spinnaker, and Multihull – were presented awards. As overall winner of the Maxi Class, George David, owner and skipper of Rambler 90 was also presented a Richard Mille Calibre RM 028 timepiece.

David enthusiastically offered, “It’s great to see the way Les Voiles has grown and progressed. Rambler and Sojana are only Maxis that have done it three years. The event started with 28 boats in 2010, so it’s clearly taking off. I think it’s going to be one of the great classic regattas in the Caribbean.”

Dates for the 2013 Les Voiles de St. Barth have been confirmed for April 8 – 13.